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A few days ago, Qatar Airways launched an extremely generous reschedule policy. In fact, I’m not sure the airline even planned for it to be as popular as it was. But given the swamped phone lines, Qatar added a few changes to the terms and conditions today.
Last week, in an effort to reassure passengers they could rely on the carrier, Qatar Airways introduced several options on their new ‘reschedule policy.’
One of the highlights of that new policy is passengers were allowed to now change the destination on their ticket (up to 5,000 miles), change the dates as often as they desired, and it is free of charge as long as all travel was completed before 31 December 2020.
THE NEW POLICY
Given the policy was a hit, the airline added a few more restrictions. Although still generous, it’s a bit more risky. Here are the new terms:
- Rerouting for voluntary purposes (i.e. where there has been no flight disruption) is possible 14 (fourteen) days after making the booking. New flights must be booked in the same booking class (RBD), be operated by Qatar Airways and can be changed within the same country of origin and/or within a 5,000 (five thousand) mile radius from the original destination booking. If the same booking class is not available, a fare and taxes difference may apply.
- Rerouting is not possible free of charge if the original booking was on a fifth freedom route not touching Doha (such as PNH-SGN and vice versa; GRU-EZE and vice versa).
In my previous post, I said there were several data points where passengers had bought tickets, called Qatar Airways customer support within minutes of buying the ticket, and were easily able to change origin. Well, the first rule would now prevent that as you have to wait 14 days AFTER finalizing your booking to make any changes.
Second, the same booking class has to be available on your new flight. Given that many flights are empty, I wouldn’t be too concerned about this rule but it’s worth being familiar with it.
Last, you can’t change your ticket origin / destination if you booked a fifth freedom route.
CREATIVITY ALWAYS WINS
I listed some business class examples in my post, but several readers contacted me shortly after the publication to discuss economy “sweet spots” because the same rules applied.
Often, you’ll find that in the world of miles and points that it pays to be creative and think ‘outside-the-box’ as one reader was able to creatively craft a trip around the world for roughly $400 by booking Qatar Airways fifth freedom flights…before the policy change.
Qatar Airways reschedule policy was creative and I trust it improved liquidity for the airline during these rough financial times.
It’s worth noting that Qatar stopped publishing fares for the PHL/JFK – Kiev route. Although, that strategy seems a bit strange given that passengers are willing to give the airline $1600 when other airlines are completely empty, it does show that this policy is an intentional move by the airline.
Although the airline made changes, I still think it’s an extremely generous policy as none of the new conditions change a lot for the passengers however I do think, at the minimum, it frees up the telephone lines for Qatar.
As I said in my previous post, although I love what Qatar Airways has done, I’m not sure if I’m willing to bite…yet. I have a feeling other airlines may see a model for future promotions.
Did you take advantage of the first policy? What do you think about the policy changes?